Door 3: David Adjaye

Photography by © Pari Dukovic

A permanent challenge in architecture is to respect the environment and the clients' wishes, while at the same time having a clear and recognizable style. An architect, who does this seemingly carefree, is the Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye.

Dirty House, 2002 Photography by © Ed Reeve

The son of Ghanian diplomat parents, David Adjaye was born in 1966 in Tanzania. Due to his parents' profession he lived in his childhood in multiple cities in Africa and the Middle East, before settling in London. He there studied architecture, first at the London South Bank University and then graduating with a masters degree at the Royal College of Art.

After university, Adjaye was tutoring and lecturing at Architectural Association and the Royal College of Art, but also set up his own practice, initially with William Russell and since 2000 on his own. At the beginning of his career, he made a name for himself creating homes and studios for artists, understanding their needs and wishes. Among other, he made a house and studio for Chris Ofili (1999), the Dirty House  for Tim Noble and Sue Webster (2002) or the studio-home for Lorna Simpson (2006).

Studio-Home, 2006 Photography by © Michael Mundy

This then led to bigger projects and commissions like the Idea Store in Whitechapel, the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo (both 2005), the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (2007) and culminated for him personally in the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. (2016).

For this building, David Adjaye took inspiration from a crown motif of a Yoruba sculpture, directly closing the gap between the two continents. For his work he received various accolades and was awarded knighthood by the queen in 2017 for his services to architecture.

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, 2016 Photography by © Frank Schulenburg